by Steven Cherry · February 14, 2014
Indie Artists on New Plays #49 Steven Cherry looks at Sex, Relationships and Sometimes...Love Sex, Relationships, and Sometimes...Love bills itself as “a monologue show,” but it consists of 27 different monologues by a cast of, if I counted correctly, 21 performers (including a Kara, a Kristina, and a Kristin).
The stories span the range of sexual and amatory relationships—couples of various genders and ages, friendships, the love of a father for his daughter, and so on. And they interrelate: Each scene, while a monologue, might include up to three actors on stage, and one of the silent actors might have the next monologue. There’s very little action, other than entrances and exits, though one monologue includes a high-heeled walk into the audience, with something of a lap dance, to the tune of “Down In Mexico,” which, for Tarantino fans who have seen “Death Proof,” is a something of a cliché.
Which brings us to why I think you might like the show more than me. I’d like to find a way to say this that makes me sound like less of a snob, but I can’t come up with one. The moments I liked least in the show, because the story seemed highly unbelievable, because there was a complete absence of subtext, or because the characters seemed most clichéd, got the most laughs and applause: the male gigolo; the jealous girlfriend; premature ejaculation; the aforementioned high-heels—and fishnets and black shorts—lap dance.
Other things bothered me as well: An over-the-top accent that seemed like a cross between Russian and Hispanic but turned out to be Bulgarian; the confusing point of view, as the monologists almost randomly address the audience or the silent actors in their scenes; the equally random mix of unbelievable story lines—such as the guy who declaims his preference for his mother to any girlfriend... And then there’s the clichés.
The format of interlocking monologues is terrific—why isn’t it exploited more?—and its strength is the opportunity for subtext: How do these characters interrelate and what are their backstories?
So for example the scene where a young woman expresses her envy upon seeing another woman her age being the object of her father’s affection, describing his behavior in such lurid terms that we wonder whether there isn’t a measure of incest, is a terrific launching point for the sort of ambiguity that can have the audience on the edge of its collective seat. Here, though, the moment trails into a lament for the lack of fatherly attention the monologist experienced growing up. The ambiguity dissipates and then vanishes.
Likewise, the aforementioned mother-adoring guy’s scene was hilarious when the references to a quasi-sexual relationship between them only came through as allusions, but as it became more and more explicit, it was just creepy. Yet, it got some of the loudest laughs.
Will you like the show as much as the audience, or only as much as I did? If you preferred Coyote Ugly to Mildred Pierce, Blazing Saddles to Unforgiven, The Perks of Being a Wallflower to 16 Candles, and Indiana Jones to Jake Gittes, then run to see this show. If you want your mind opened up to the interlocking monologue format, despite the weaknesses of this instantiation of it, then walk there. But in either event, when you get to the building, take the elevator.